Document Detail

Sperm whale behaviour indicates the use of echolocation click buzzes "creaks" in prey capture.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15539349     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
During foraging dives, sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) produce long series of regular clicks at 0.5-2 s intervals interspersed with rapid-click buzzes called "creaks". Sound, depth and orientation recording Dtags were attached to 23 whales in the Ligurian Sea and Gulf of Mexico to test whether the behaviour of diving sperm whales supports the hypothesis that creaks are produced during prey capture. Sperm whales spent most of their bottom time within one or two depth bands, apparently feeding in vertically stratified prey layers. Creak rates were highest during the bottom phase: 99.8% of creaks were produced in the deepest 50% of dives, 57% in the deepest 15% of dives. Whales swam actively during the bottom phase, producing a mean of 12.5 depth inflections per dive. A mean of 32% of creaks produced during the bottom phase occurred within 10 s of an inflection (13x more than chance). Sperm whales actively altered their body orientation throughout the bottom phase with significantly increased rates of change during creaks, reflecting increased manoeuvring. Sperm whales increased their bottom foraging time when creak rates were higher. These results all strongly support the hypothesis that creaks are an echolocation signal adapted for foraging, analogous to terminal buzzes in taxonomically diverse echolocating species.
Patrick J O Miller; Mark P Johnson; Peter L Tyack
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  271     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2004 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-11-12     Completed Date:  2005-01-25     Revised Date:  2009-11-18    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  2239-47     Citation Subset:  IM    
NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9QQ, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Analysis of Variance
Animal Communication*
Echolocation / physiology*
Gait / physiology
Predatory Behavior / physiology*
Sound Spectrography
Whales / physiology*

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